Yeah, then I came to Ireland.
Boy, oh, boy was the catholic church here different or what? I even disliked going to church here, which is the one place I should have felt a sense of community and belonging. But it was kind of difficult to belong, in a huge empty church with maybe five little old ladies scattered throughout.
Maybe I would have stayed loyal if there were more people and I made some ‘church’ friends. After all, when you’re a member of any club, the whole point is to meet like-minded people, right?
I won’t even go into that whole child abuse thing because I was completely disgusted at the institution’s response and hope the guilty parties all get jailed, tortured or worse.
So, back to the Dogmas. The whole original sin thing…I mean come on. How can a one day old baby be subjected to sin? Now that I’ve seen two nephews go from mewling little babies to chatty, adorable boys, and have my own little girl, no one could convince me that a god exists that would send them to hell because of some stupid thing that supposedly happened at the beginning of time. I’m sorry, but if a god exists who would do that, then I want no part in him/her/it.
As to the pope being infallible, yeah, that one really makes my blood boil these days. So the pope is never wrong? Ever? So when they say/do stupid things like banning birth control, linking homosexuality to paedophilia, they are never ever wrong? Geez! Essentially, if the pope speaks for god and god is never, ever wrong, then he sure does change his mind a lot and doesn’t make much sense when he gives his reasons.
Anyhoo, the big thing for me was the dogma that, by the knowledge of vision, God also foresees the future free acts of rational creatures with infallible certainty. This for me was the final nail in the coffin.
It has to do with Judas.
I really thought long and hard about this one for years. If god knows what will happen to every person before it happens to them, it follows that he knew Judas was going to betray Jesus. He knew this from the moment Judas was born. He knew Judas would kill himself after, and he knew Judas was going to go to hell. So where’s the free will for poor Judas? How is it fair that he was doomed to hell even before he was born? Poor bastard! And where’s the mercy in the whole situation if he wasn’t even forgiven?
Basically it means we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t right?
So my only conclusion was that god doesn’t exist. He can’t. Because if he did, he’d just be like a big child that wants attention all the time and doesn’t take responsibility for what’s happening and I want no part of that.
And I especially don’t want any part at all in any religion. So far I’ve been catholic, I’ve spoken to and read up on Jehovah’s witnesses, a lot of born-again Christians, Mormons, seventh day Adventists, Hindus, Muslims, and it’s just not for me.
I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I tell lies, I use birth control. I swear, and I believe I can find alternative rituals to fill my life. Because basically that’s what all religions give us. A sense of belonging to something we perceive as good, and rituals to guide us in our life.
I think this is the most important thing that religion has to offer to us. A sense of ritual. When you get married, die, or a baby is born, the gears start to grind and we all know what we are supposed to do. Visit, bring food, and pass on your congratulations/condolences/best wishes, whichever is appropriate. There are things you must do and things you must never do. You bring a present for the baby, you bring gifts to the newly wed, and you wear black to the funerals. These things are set by the faith and don’t change for years.
In this sense, I think religion is a wonderful thing. There are traditions and customs that make sure we don’t get overwhelmed by major events in our lives and we have an automatic support structure in place when we need it the most.
In fact, I’m all for religion when it makes people treat each other, the environment and other creatures with the respect that every living thing and our planet deserves. If one person does not litter because they believe it’s a sin, another person doesn’t litter because the earth is god’s garden, and I don’t litter because I think it’s a disgusting habit, well, it all amounts to the same thing – nobody littering. So in this sense, I don’t mind religion when it works.
It’s the hierarchy that spoils it for me. The judgmental finger pointing, holier-than-thou attitudes it engenders and the us-versus-them culture it enables that I hate.
So I’m becoming a humanist. And I will create my own rituals with my tiny family. We’ll celebrate the coming of spring this year instead of Easter, because both Kris and I love nature and think it’s good to celebrate it after the very long winter is over. We’ll celebrate midsummer, because I think it’s the most amazing day of the year, with a picnic or barbecue. Midwinter will be a time for walking in forests and seeing how living things still survive even when all seems dead and lost.
We’ll be travelling to Zambia this April for my sister’s wedding and instead of baptising/christening our daughter, I want a different ritual. After all, that’s all that baptism is, right? A chance for the family to get together and welcome the new addition.
I want to ask my grandmother to resurrect an old Tonga naming ceremony. Our daughter is named after her and what better way to honour my granny and my daughter than to have one pass on her name directly to the other, with all the family present to welcome the baby into the fold. There will be food, there will be a barbecue, there will be white beads threaded specially to go around the baby’s hand, slipped on by her namesake. There will be four generations of women to witness it. There will be ritual and most importantly, there will be love, which is the greatest thing that community and family can offer to any individual human.
I look forward to telling you how wonderful it will be...